By 2005, functional academics was introduced into the curriculum of children with learning difficulties in Seelampur, due to their diverse and unmet learning needs. The teachers at CARENIDHI, drawn from within the team of community workers and guided by consultants, have introduced functional academics into the core curriculum, based on the syllabus of the Sarvashiksha Abhiyan (Classes 1 to 3). Some of the children faced problems getting mainstreamed into local schools (despite the facilitatory efforts of networking with MCD schools in the neigbourhood), and required additional support from us.
Thus was born the prevocational skill development of kitchen craft and cooking as a stepping stone to catering and allied vocations. The team effectively combined functional academics and teaching of skills required for the children to participate in the home kitchen. They got trained in the non-culinary essentials of the work required (such as hygiene, keeping the workspace clean and simple arithmetic to maintain accounts), to take the learning towards a vocation/livelihoods programme.
Functional academics has been extended now to our new vocational training programmes, covering a wider range of activities, and is integral to the teaching of pre-vocational skills.
The results of a CARENIDHI study in 2004 and a needs based assesment in 2016 pointed to livelihood issues as being high on the priority list among the perceived needs of older children with disabilities and their families. This was contrary to our own expectations that education would feature as an important need, especially since we had earlier involved the community in awareness raising on inclusive education. This knowledge, and the fact that CARENIDHI programmes in the community until then were mostly catering to the younger children led us to look proactively at the development of prevocational skills for the older children.
To start with, we started the zardosi classes, selecting a young woman from Seelampur as a trainer, whose family business was zardosi work on garments. She was also a member of the community survey team and, therefore, sensitive to the special needs of the children and their families. The zardosi training soon became so popular that it became the first major inclusive programme of CARENIDHI in Seelampur. We added tailoring classes in 2016. The beneficiaries of this skill building project are self-employed adults today.
Based upon an informal assessment of community needs in 2016, we explored the possibility of widening the pre-vocational skills development activities by having computer skills programmes.
In August 2022, we started the Disability Inclusive Development Initiative (DIDI) with a focus on Digital literacy as a distinct new project in Karkardooma, where our office is also located.
Our training programme in the community for family-centred services for children and young adults was already extending to prevocational development when it was decided to mark the Silver Jubilee year of the CARENIDHI Trust by starting a new project called Disability Inclusive Development Initiatives (DIDI). DIDI seeks to take the work of empowerment of the underprivileged through inclusive learning for all domains linked to the social sector and poverty alleviation in the spirit of sustainable development.
With the world moving into the knowledge economy phase, it is becoming important for us to "educate, enable, and empower" our children (and the adults that they are becoming) by harnessing information technology to reduce the digital divide.
DIDI is just a small effort in that direction, now only a sapling but with the potential to contribute to sustainable development for All, leaving no one behind.
The work in the DIDI unit this year has an emphasis on the girl child while being open to all young adults in the age group of 12–18 years.
• Basic computer training is linked to Art and Crafts as a pre-vocational course and to Non-Formal Education (NFE).
• Workshops and group activities are a part of the certificate course from the Social Education Unit of CARENIDHI, working together with DIDI to cover Life Skills Education, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adolescent health and nutrition, disability rights, and many more.